McEducation: Kasich Orders Ohio Universities To Look Into Three-Year Degree Programs

Oscar Wilde once said that a cynic is “a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Ohio Gov. John Kasich would appear to be that cynic. He believes that he has found an easy way to dealing with high tuition costs in college — cut the college education itself. In a move that would be a disaster for the quality and standing of Ohio universities and colleges, Kasich wants schools to reduce college educations to three rather than four years to pump out more graduates in a shorter time.

I have long opposed a similar proposal in law schools to reduce the three year curriculum to two years — a proposal by deans who want to convert legal education into a factory operation.

Kasich ordered state universities to investigate ways for students to get a bachelor’s degree in three years and has called for a crackdown on what he views as lazy college professors who do not teach enough. He is getting support from Matt Mayer of the Buckeye Institute — a conservative “think tank” that (on its website) bills as its “vision” “a revitalized Ohio that ranks among the top ten states in high household wealth, low taxation, and low government costs.” Mayer states in the article below that “If we really kind of strip down higher ed and the four-year degree down to a really rigorous three-year process, for many kids that would be a great road to get their skills, get their knowledge base, graduate and then become productive members of society.” Add a second cynic to the list.

What is missing from such analysis is the process of learning and maturation that occurs in a four-year program. College is not primarily about getting a degree to get better jobs — at least not for educators. It is about producing well-educated individuals with an appreciation for a wide array of knowledge. It should be a time of intellectual awakening for students who are exposed to great ideas and great writers. This exploration can lead students into new fields or simply open up a lifetime interest in learning. “Stripping down” education suggests that some knowledge or course are merely frivolous distractions as opposed to the core classes needed to be functional in society. You can strip down a lawnmower and it will still produce a sharp cut. When you strip down education, you just get a dull graduate.

The desire to rank the “quality” of schools based largely on tuition produces absurd results, as shown in the discredited Forbes rankings.

As for those lazy academics, this seems part of the growing trend of demonizing intellectuals in contemporary politics, particularly among some conservative leaders like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. Colleges benefit from professors continuing research and writing to keep new ideas and works flowing through their classrooms. They are not shop teachers who just teach a single unchanging skill. The quality of teaching depends on teachers remaining intellectually productive.

If Kasich succeeds, the standing of many fine Ohio schools will decline dramatically. The academic standing of schools will plummet in academic rankings and the quality of students will decline in response. The result is a downward spiral where Kasich will be able to show “success” in cranking out more degrees but his state will become a second-rate educational center. As the standing of Ohio schools fails, top professors are likely to go elsewhere as are businesses who want the best and the brightest graduates.

Kasich needs to have someone explain the difference between the price of education and the value of education.
Source: NPR

Jonathan Turley

44 thoughts on “McEducation: Kasich Orders Ohio Universities To Look Into Three-Year Degree Programs

  1. Oh, why the hell not….at this rate….why not just give them the High School Diploma…say when turning 15….

  2. Good luck on your kid getting into medical school, or for that matter, any graduate school, unless the kid is a sparkling genius with a 150 IQ who could soak up enough information in the three years to get past the GRE, MCAT or LSAT.

  3. I heard this discussion on NPR yesterday.

    From the NPR article: “If we really kind of strip down higher ed and the four-year degree down to a really rigorous three-year process, for many kids that would be a great road to get their skills, get their knowledge base, graduate and then become productive members of society,” Mayer says.

    *****

    One has to wonder what “kind of stripping down” higher ed would mean.

  4. Elaine M.,

    “One has to wonder what “kind of stripping down” higher ed would mean.”

    Not all who Dance make money….or marry well….

  5. Kasich ordered state universities to investigate ways for students to get a bachelor’s degree in three years and has called for a crackdown on what he views as lazy college professors who do not teach enough.

    The Professor is spot on in his analysis — the Governor wants to turn prestigious universities into community colleges whose professors teach five classes rather than two and don’t do any research or write any books.

    This seems like a systemic attack on liberal intellectualism — Conservative ideas would do just fine because there is a conservative think tank system in place. People who
    care about history in-and-of-itself rather than to serve a partisan agenda (and who frequently debunk conservative myths)? People who serve as a check on the scientific claims made by corporate interests? They will find themselves teaching so many classes they don’t have time to “meddle” in politics any more.

  6. We will soon be Mississippi North. If our house ever sells we are planning to relocate to the United States of America.

  7. This is beyond embarrassing …

    He also doesn’t think funds for job retraining should be wasted on the unemployed but used for training workers who already have jobs … he calls them “incumbent workers”.

    “I don’t like the current system. That’s typical government,” Kasich said. “That’s a Disneyland North philosophy.” … go ahead, try to figure out what he means by that statement.

    As far as K-12 education, Kasich wants to double the number of scholarships to allow students in underperforming public schools to attend private schools.

    A cap would be lifted on the number of community schools, which receive state funding but are privately operated, bonuses would be provided to high-performing teachers and the dismissal process streamlined for poor-performing ones.

    Oh … by the way … He wants to sell five prisons to private operators to raise $200 million that was covered in the last state budget with federal stimulus dollars. (Yeah, he lost those stimulus funds!)

    So there you have it … Kasich’s “jobs budget”! Irony …

  8. Really, if they would just strip out all the unnecessary crap and only teach kids the skill they need for whatever job they think they might want to take they could boil it down to 2 years!

    THAT’S THE TICKET! Get your Bachelors degree in 2 years. AH, wait! Don’t they already have schools like that? Yeah but you can’t get a BA there so this is better! Sort of like “This one goes to 11!”

  9. I agree entirely with the sentiments expressed in the post regarding the value of education. But may I point out that a path already exists for top students to complete their degree in less that four years: AP units.

    Top students at all elite schools enter with enough AP units that they are almost sophomores. I don’t have any stats to prove or disprove that these students enroll in as many classes as the “regular” students who do not enter with AP units. I suspect they don’t. They either graduate early or take a much lighter load.

    I don’t have a problem with someone completing a four year degree in less time. Quite the contrary, I’m usually impressed when I hear about it. It shows drive and determination (offset by the lack of a need to hold a job while in school). But I think institutionalizing the practice probaly would lead to significant dumbing down.

  10. You could also finish in 3 years if you took summer semesters for two years. Just like this proposal, that would still cost you the same amount of money but you would be done a year earlier.

    Given that they are working hard to make retirement an impossibility for us old farts that means an extra year of living in your folks basement but you did get your degree in 3.

  11. I completed my BA in Music in three years by taking all the required “general” courses in the summer and all the music classes fall through spring.

    The motivated and mature student can do it with ease. I also worked part-time all year which is almost a requirement for musicians developing their performance skills.

    I had no problem getting into graduate school … in fact having done the 4 years in three was a plus.

    But that isn’t what Kasich is talking about is it? He wants to “dumb down” the degree … idiot.

  12. Blouise, I agree on the dumbing down. Under his plan, the idea is that professors have too much free time, so they should teach a full load, like high school teacher do.

    Cut out all that nonsense such as research, time to think, and grading papers. Just hit the ground running at eight in the morning and teach five classes every day.

  13. Blouise,

    You can’t have another generation of well-educated citizens.

    Why that just might lead to democracy just spontaneously bustin’ out all over the place.

  14. In a society in which a deluded elite oligarchy acts (through established traditions?) as though most other people are their expendables, is any greater threat to the socioeconomic status of the oligarchs possible than a competently educated citizenry, capable of understanding and effectively resisting oligarchical tyrannies?

    If Gov. Kasich was born with the ability to be functionally mentally-competent, what could possibly have happened to him?

  15. Brian, He became a disciple of Ayn Rand. Some would say that is preferable to the former democratic governor that had a streak of blue dog in him. There are a few good private colleges in Ohio. Maybe they will thrive in the move to privatization.

  16. Mr. Kasich just wants to rid the State of those commie pinko college professors who have too much time on their hands to write factually nasty things about Kasich and the rest of his radical crowd.

  17. The Prof called it in his original article … “demonizing intellectuals in contemporary politics”

    Under the guise of budgeting Kasich is really only appealing to the prejudices of his teabagging supporters … but then one needs to have an education in order to recognize that ….

  18. It gets better. Kasick says one of Ohio’s problems is we aren’t “cool” enough. If we could just be “cooler” more people would want to live here.

    This comes from one of the uncoolest people around. Although I do believe when he was a congressman he hopped on the stage with the Eagles. He figured they would be thrilled to jam with him. Apparenntly not as they had Security kick Kasick off their friggin’ stage.

  19. Does Kasich want to reduce the number of credits required for graduation or increase the number of credits students take per semester? As a lazy professor, I prefer the former.

  20. “No Einstein: Tennessee Legislator Falsely Quotes Einstein As Embracing Christianity As Thinking Man’s Religion”

    “McEducation: Kasich Orders Ohio Universities To Look Into Three-Year Degree Programs”

    This headline was in our local paper today and makes these two post more scarey at least here in Jersey:

    “N.J. Republicans raise more money than Democrats so far this year … April 19, 2011, 10:45AM”

  21. I got though a doctoral program in record time by taking 21 hours a semester. The Dean caught me in my last semester, and was he pissed! But, he could not take credits away from me, so he made me drop a couple of classes. That caused me to have to take them in the summer and so did not graduate until August instead of May. That pissed ME off.

    I do not recommend that class load to ANYBODY, but I was married, had three kids and needed to get out and start earning a living. We were barely surviving on the pittance Fellowship money they gave me out of the Federal grant I wrote for them.

  22. This is quite popular here in Ohio. It’s quite possible to do if you know your major and don’t change after you’ve had an epiphany or damaged your brain with chemicals. Our niece is doing a music degree this way, currently taking 8 courses for 23 credit hours. No, she doesn’t have another life, but music (and medicine) students don’t anyway. She’ll save tens of thousands of dollars.

  23. I wouldn’t fret to much about it. These “graduates” can always become police officers:

    http://island-adv.com/2011/03/obama-administration-forces-dayton-police-department-to-lower-its-testing-standard-for-police-recruits/

    As a public safety professional for 3 decades, I can report that the dumbing down of American society isn’t limited to the classroom.

    You should see the physicians allowed to license from other countries.

    Actually, no you shouldn’t.

  24. PatricParamedic sez:
    “You should see the physicians allowed to license from other countries.
    Actually, no you shouldn’t.”

    ***********************************

    The Republican solution to those pesky problems is to make it a lot harder to sue for malpractice. I am from a family of health care providers, but there is no excuse for some of the sorry excuses I see on almost a daily basis. Some are good, and when they are good, they tend to be very good indeed, but the others….

  25. mr.ed
    1, April 20, 2011 at 2:52 pm
    This is quite popular here in Ohio. It’s quite possible to do if you know your major and don’t change after you’ve had an epiphany or damaged your brain with chemicals. Our niece is doing a music degree this way, currently taking 8 courses for 23 credit hours. No, she doesn’t have another life, but music (and medicine) students don’t anyway. She’ll save tens of thousands of dollars.

    ==========================================

    bingo!

  26. Here’s the deal. A university and a trade school serve very different functions. Gov. Kasich’s proposal is likely to accomplish nothing other than to turn out graduates who are neither educated nor trained in a marketable skill. But, of course, it will be cheaper. Besides, if the ultimate goal is simply to create a new workforce with greatly lowered expectations, why have a public university system at all?

  27. Mike A.,
    You hit the nail on the head. He wants to save money from the liberal intstitutions and give it to corporations and the wealthy. I think Bernie Sanders called it the Reverse Robin Hood concept!

  28. Actually Robin Hood took from the non-productive and gave to the productive that which had been taken from them.

    Education in this country is a joke anyway. It has been dumbed down, maybe 3 years will let students keep some of their mental faculties intact.

    Most colleges are teaching people that should be in trade schools and would do far better financially if they learned how to operate a lathe or wire a building.

    The smartest man I ever knew never saw the inside of a college classroom. He read the great books on his own, sometimes I think he read everyone of them.

  29. Eric Von Stroheim sez: “…Robin Hood took from the non-productive and gave to the productive that which had been taken from them.”

    *******************************

    Which is exactly what needs to happen now. Take the taxes that should be paid, but are not because of the tax giveaways from the Bush years. Get that money from the non-productive like the Wall Street banksters, the Koch Crime Family, Grover Norquist’s bathtub and so forth.

    And use that money to help out the productive peons whose very souls, livelihoods and health care are being stolen from them by cabals of the uber-wealthy and their political enablers.

  30. the world is a much simpler place when you believe all of it came into being 6000 years ago.

    makes education easier too

  31. As has been pointed out, it’s quite possible to do a Bachelor’s in 3 years, assuming that the student is willing to load up on additional courses, and doesn’t have any interfering things like jobs, or a family. If they were to take 20 hours a semester instead of 16, it’s possible. But, that doesn’t seem to be what Gov Kasich is suggesting. What he’s suggesting is cutting the curriculum or requirements to make the degree fit into a 3 year time frame.

  32. Otteray Scribe:

    how about we cut taxes for everyone and let the middle class keep most of their money instead of giving it to pay for corporate bailouts. How about cutting spending for everything but absolute essentials?

    How about getting rid of duplication of effort within all levels of government? How about making some things fee for service.

    There are all kinds of things that can be done. But we wont because both parties are power hungry and want to grow government. They want Leviathan not Locke.

  33. Eric: great talking points for Grover and the Koch Crime Family. And for GE who paid not a dime on their profits.

    Where are the jobs for the middle class? I know a number of well-educated and motivated people who cannot find a job. One of our local fast food restaurants had a few openings for hamburger flippers and window clerks. They had twice or three times as many applicants as there were jobs. Some of the applicants had college degrees. I have a friend with a Master’s degree who cannot find a job and is mowing lawns to survive. Where are the jobs?

    I just got off the phone on a service call with someone whose broken English was barely understandable. Said his name was Kevin. Sure it was. That is a job that could have stayed on this side of the pond; but no, the big corporations take their tax breaks and offshore jobs to southeast Asia.

  34. “Otteray Scribe
    1, April 21, 2011 at 12:25 am
    Pete, they ARE trickling down on us. It is warm and yellow. In vast quantities.”

    I knew that wasn’t rain LOL!!

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